Suppose I'm playing in a small, 6-round tournament. I win the first five rounds, which also guarantees at least a share of 1st regardless of the results of the last round. What are the ethics of play in the last round? Say the opponent comes to the board and offers a draw before making a move. He judges he's not likely to beat me, so a draw is a good result for him. He's of the opinion that since the result doesn't matter to me, I might as well accept. Should I accept? What if the opponent plays a few moves, and offers a draw in a position I assess as better for me, but still has a lot of play left in it? What if the opponent offers a draw in a position in which he is dead lost?

If I take the draw, I insulate myself from a potential blunder. I also guarantee I win the tournament, not just share first. However by not beating my opponent, I give him an undeserved half-point and more prize money, and it's not fair for my opponents in the first five rounds who had to play me when I was incentivized to win.

Is there some kind of convention for this kind of situation?

  • 2
    Life is not fair and unfortunately deals like this are made routinely.
    – Ywapom
    Jan 5, 2018 at 22:59
  • 5
    @Ywapom But that doesn't make it ethical or legal.
    – D M
    Jan 6, 2018 at 1:37
  • I think when you need draw in last round, there is nothing unethical offering draw early. When you don't need it at all and you are dominating rapid event, I would consider unethical not to play last round.
    – hoacin
    Jan 6, 2018 at 8:29

1 Answer 1


USCF rule 14B6 states that "it is unethical and unsporting to agree to a draw before a serious contest has begun".

Also, according to USCF rule 20L, manipulating results is not only prohibited, "severe sanctions" are called for, which might even include revocation of the offenders' USCF memberships.

According to rule 20J, even discussing the possible results with your opponent is improper.

You are not, however, required to ignore the crosstable. There's nothing wrong with taking a draw to ensure a tournament prize - provided you don't collude with your opponent.

  • If tournament results would be unaffected by even a full-point swing, and the players were tired, would there be anything unethical about them telling the TD that and asking him to assign whatever result he saw fit, rather than clutter the record with a game that would be unlikely to be of any interest to anyone? Having both players agree to a draw to avoid either one scoring a zero may be unethical, but if a draw would yield the same tournament outcome as a double forfeit, so neither player would have anything to gain or lose by playing, is there any reason players should bother?
    – supercat
    Sep 29, 2023 at 18:21
  • @supercat Each one could go to the TD and request a zero-point bye before the round. If they go to the TD together that implies they were improperly discussing it beforehand, doesn't it?
    – D M
    Sep 30, 2023 at 0:29
  • Perhaps, but unlike scenarios where a half point could affect tournament rankings, here the action would be in no way detrimental to any other players in the event. If either/both players would be willing to play if the other player was interested, neither might want to go to the TD alone and deprive the other player of a chance to play a game to which they would be entitled if interested. If there's a separate means of recording a requested zero-point bye (as distinct from a loss or a misconduct forfeiture) having the TD record that for both players might be appropriate, but...
    – supercat
    Sep 30, 2023 at 14:53
  • ...recording a half-point bye would seem nicer if it wouldn't affect rankings otherwise.
    – supercat
    Sep 30, 2023 at 14:54

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